From the Stupid Product Name Department

Microsoft has announced that the successor to Windows XP will be known as “Windows Vista” when it finally arrives.

Now call me a geek, but I always thought it was just simpler to use version numbers. See, while the marketing names might sound good at first, they just get unmanageable after they start doing security updates and changes (is “Windows XP with Service Pack 2” really preferable to “Windows 5.2”?)

On the other hand, at least Microsoft makes an effort. I was just doing a Google search for RFID products and discovered the Zebra 110XiIIIPlus.

Someone want to tell me how that is pronounced? The “one-ten ex eye three plus”? Or is it “one-ten X eye eye eye eye plus”? Or… seriously, what the hell?

Perhaps the Zebra folks have been taking a cue from Pentax, who released a camera line called “*ist.” The *ist DS (starist? asteriskist?) could be a great camera, but how will people find that out? Billboards? Commercials that just silently show the logo? I wouldn’t count on word of mouth, fellas…

My rule of thumb is this: when you’re naming a product, company, or service (or choosing a domain name) imagine yourself mentioning it to a friend on the phone. Do you have to spell anything out? Do you have to repeat it? Are you afraid you’re pronouncing it incorrectly? Does it take too long? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, do us all a favor and head back to the drawing board.

And if that’s not enough motivation, read this McSweeney’s article a few times.

Bonus observation: To bring it to the next level, consider your URLs. The software suggested placing this page at “jsp dot org slash 2005 slash 07 slash 26 slash from hyphen the hyphen stupid hyphen product hyphen name hyphen department”, I opted for something shorter.

Hit Me With It


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